In the lead-up to her talk at the coming 2018 Women Economy Summit, Helen Ye visited the AmCham China office to give her insight on career development for young women, and discuss her own experiences as a professional. Among her key topics, Helen pointed to the imperative nature of corporate and government advocacy, as well as the importance of self-advocacy and self-motivation.
Helen Ye is the Vice President of Global China Practice at Ogilvy & Mather. She is responsible for the China Outbound Practice, supporting brand building, high-level government exchange, and training programs for outbound Chinese companies. Before joining Ogilvy, Helen served as Vice President at AmCham China, where she was in charge of government affairs, and was responsible for the Chamber’s government affairs-related activities and advocacy efforts. She now holds the position of Vice Chairman on AmCham China’s Board of Governors.
Helen has worked around the world – from China to Hungary, Beijing to New York, and all the way back to Beijing again. Through her career development, and her achievements working in such varied places and industries, it is clear that Helen’s success comes from a specific place – from within. Helen cited “self-motivation” as a vital skill in her career, and underlined the ability to choose one's own goals and career path as an invaluable asset to young women professionals. And, being such a self-motivated person, Helen jumped at the chance to sit down for an interview, and give us a look into the advice she has in store for the upcoming Women Economy Summit.
In her visit to AmCham China, Helen was an abundance of wisdom – for women, and all professionals, in fact. When looking at her globe-trotting career between different countries and industries, and asked how young women could emulate such a career, Helen frankly put that “young women professionals need to play by the same rules as men. When you consider your career and path, consider it as they do. Not as a woman professional – simply as a professional.”
Regarding her own career growth and the tools that aided her, Helen stated that self-learning has been crucial, and is a practice that applies to everyone. She affirmed that when it comes to self-learning, it “can apply to anyone, with any personality. Some people are introverts and some people are extroverts, but [you] should never stop learning, especially as a woman.”
In the same vein, she explained the necessity of arming one’s self with knowledge in order to gain credibility, and to be viewed as an equal. “Because of the way people listen to you and talk to you, you have to master enough knowledge, you have to read, you have to observe. You have to analyze and form your own opinion, so that when you talk to people outside of your industry, people still find you interesting, knowledgeable, and they will ignore your appearance,” she put frankly.
Helen went on to address a variety of salient points aimed at young professional women – and indeed young professionals of all backgrounds. When discussing how she dealt with external pressures such as society and family, Helen underscored a key consideration – her own happiness.
Helen referred to a time when she put to an old classmate that, “You care so much about other people, but who knows what is best for you? You do. You know what makes you happy. So, if you do everything for other people, you never focus on yourself. In this way, how can you achieve extraordinary results?” This point made by Helen is one that young professionals must often grapple with. Without the self-belief, and true conviction of knowing what is right for their own futures, many young professionals will simply walk the roads laid out for them by others. This is what Helen remarked as, “a sure path to a mid-life crisis.” Helen, instead, proposed an alternative path in the face of such pressures, stating that, “if you are strong enough, and show results, people’s objections will gradually disappear.”
Helen expanded on the perils of societal pressure, and detailed her – potentially controversial – viewpoint. “I always follow my own heart. I can’t compromise that. I can sacrifice some things, but by doing that, if I am not happy, then no one else around me is happy.” This struggle, one that many young women professionals face, is one that Helen has tackled head on. “Even as a teenager, I told my parents, ‘You gave me life, but I am not yours. I am myself, I will have my own life.’” And, while she affirmed that she respects familial responsibilities, Helen’s happiness and career are things that she, and she alone, is responsible for.
With this perspective on personal and professional growth, Helen provided great insight into the unique, and diverse career path of an international, professional woman. Looking at this perspective, and at Helen’s achievements, it seems likely that it has been through this distinctive approach that she separated herself from the pack, and built the career she has today. Self-belief, self-motivation, and an iron-clad resolve have been huge boons to Helen’s career – key points for all young professionals to take away from Helen’s story.
Through her words, her achievements, and her overall message, Helen provides much guidance and encouragement for young women professionals, imploring them to figure out what they want for themselves, and to do so in their own time. And, in her current role, and looking at the development of her career, it’s very obvious that Helen has practiced exactly what she’s preached.
On March 30, Helen Ye will be an honored guest at the 2018 Women Economy Summit, where she and an all-star lineup of speakers will shed light on the women driving economic growth, as well as a wide range of other topics. We invite you to come listen to Helen as well as many others, and attend a yearly event not to be missed.